Developer: Magenta Software
When I was a lad, you'd find me dogfighting in Frontier Elite or hunting down Superfrog's trickier Easter eggs. We thrived on challenge as children and nothing has changed, because these days kids eat Ender Dragons for breakfast and noscope headshots for dessert. They certainly know that red barrels are likely to explode or that coloured tiles will unlock something when you step on them, but Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom has no respect for its young target audience. It painstakingly explains every primitive and dated mechanic, convinced that its players are brain-dead drones who mustn't be allowed to think for themselves.
Still, if you are a brain-dead drone, you might get some enjoyment out of this criminally generic and dull little platformer.
We're deep in shovelware territory here. Tasked with bringing the Invizimals franchise to the PS3, Magenta Software decided that Augmented Reality sounded like hard work, so decided to deliver a by-the-numbers platformer instead. Presumably because it was a Friday afternoon. We step into the DayGlo jacket of Hiro, a young boy exploring the digital realm of the Invizimals for the first time, whose ability to transform into sixteen of the critters has potential for interesting gameplay.
Sadly, each of the sixteen Invizimal forms basically offer a single hackneyed ability that you'll occasionally use while playing a platformer that feels ripped straight out of the early nineties. To the extent that, if you listen closely, you can just about hear Cotton-Eye Joe. You'll spend your time running about some boxy and simplistic linear levels (10%), battling a tiny selection of recycled bad guys over and over again (10%), using primitive Invizimals abilities to cross gaps or solve some hilariously primitive non-puzzles (10%) and the other 70% of your time smashing up treasure chests or pots for currency without anything hugely interesting to spend it on.
That's it. For ten hours.
It's simperingly repetitive, basic and boring; with almost no thought involved, and practically plays itself thanks to its patronising need to mollycoddle its already-overqualified audience. Puzzles usually involve standing on a coloured tile, then jumping over a gap. Clearly Magenta forgot that we had games like Spyro to sink our teeth into back in the nineties and that kids actually deserve quality software.
We've all played it a thousand times before; squint and it could be any of a thousand rubbish generic licensed platformers to release over the last 15 years.
The kindest thing I can say about The Lost Kingdom is that it functions. It works without crashes, bugs or glitches, but it doesn't work very well. The platforming is unbelievably slooooooOoooOow and sluggish, from jumping to wall climbing and basic movement speed, making everything last twice as long as it should. Combat fares no better thanks to clunky and syrupy attacks that usually miss the mark, but at least you'll only fight the same useless enemies throughout the entire game. All the money you'll harvest from a thousand destructible pots funnels into a tiny selection of special attacks that all handle in exactly the same way, and only two of which can actually be equipped.
It does at least look reasonable. Though The Lost Kingdom's graphics aren't anything to write home about, the levels are colourful and varied, while the Invizimal designs are top-notch. Some shiny FMV sequences dish out the storyline, alongside some painfully-underused voice acting from the legendary Brian Blessed. I wish I could say the same about performance, which chugs and shudders all over the shop, not to mention some interminable loading screens in later stages.
Invizimals superfans might get some fun out of the battle mode, which is cruelly relegated to the sidelines as an optional feature. Collecting 'pup idols' throughout the game unlocks Invizimals to train and battle, using a Vita connection to facilitate cross-platform play with Invizimals: The Alliance. However, seeing as the battling looks and plays better in the Vita version, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to shell out the extra money.
That's what annoys me the most about The Lost Kingdom. It's pointless: a platformer made-to-order in the quickest time and least effort possible, only existing because an executive ordered a PS3 Invizimals spinoff to clog up the shelves, quality be damned. The Invizimals franchise has a ton of potential, but the latest releases may well have killed it.
Invizimals: The Alliance was no great shakes, but it least it failed because Novalogic tried to do too much, not the bare minimum. I can respect them for that.
- Brian Blessed
- Colourful visuals and great Invizimal designs
- Battle mode is fun for fans
- Brain-dead, boring and criminally generic
- Slow, sluggish, cumbersome and clunky
- Patronising personality
- Inconsistent performance despite underwhelming graphics
The Short Version: Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom doesn't deserve to be found. If you want to buy your kids a colourful and engaging platformer, choose literally anything by TT Games instead.